Japan. Today, we’ve got a point outside the curve of someone’s discography, nothing less than Asakawa Maki (Maki Asakawa, January 27, 1942 – January 17, 2010) the major female precursor for folk, rock and pop audiences in the country. Her hoarse and deep voice, hypnotic eyes and persona, all black style and the (always) cigarette in tow, managed to capture national and foreign fame throughout an extensive famous career. Much based on folk-rock, blues, and some jazz, these previous albums and characters will entry along with our galaxy. A rare live presentation it is available (for now at least) and can be seen here, check it out!
Today we’ll start with a twist overview. Different from its first releases and acclaimed developments through the ’70s, Cat Nap has its unique blends from Jazz, Rock, Funk, Reggae, Ska, Post-Punk and Pop in a solid experience direct from the early ’80s. (!)
Let’s go to their history:
Jazz and blues vocalist, lyricist, composer, and orchestrator Maki Asakawa was born in 1942 in Ishikawa Prefecture. After a short stint working at the town office in her small village, she headed for Tokyo to pursue music. She started by playing at U.S. military bases and cabarets, where she refined her style, which was largely informed by Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson. Asakawa released her first Ep, Tokyo Banka, on the Victor imprint in 1967. In 1968, Maki got her big break when she appeared for three days running at the Shinjuku underground theater known as Sasoriza, a project of underground playwright and controversial movie director Shuji Terayama. Shortly thereafter, she signed with Toshiba (currently EMI Music Japan), making her official major-label debut in July 1969 single’s: Yo Ga Aketara / Kamome.
Since then, Maki Asakawa has consistently released music and appeared live, garnering praise for her unique interpretation of jazz, blues, and avant-garde, she has also collaborated with Yosuke Yamashita and Akira Sakata, and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto among many other legends!
Sadly, she died of acute heart failure in her hotel room in Nagoya on a Sunday night and later pronounced dead. She was 67. (RIP)
Years Active: 1967 ~ 2010
Let’s go to our album:
At the time of its release (October 21, 1982), Cat Nap received this type of commentary from the Japanese press:
‘A splendid work, with new horizons that Maki challenged, colored by improvisation, honed melody and stand out performance.’
Fact. Along with its trumpeter, composer and partner Toshinori Kondo, Maki sails free among a beautiful kaleidoscope of modern sound; once again (as JAGATARA), the 80’s aesthetics that prevailed through, were as revolutionary as those from previous decades. This is a very uptempo one with incredible experimental moments.
The ‘IM’ highlights are for: Shinkyoku B, a monster groove-reggae with crazy harmonics, fuzz and sexy vocals from our bluesy queen. A perfect song for a tropical panorama, good energies, friends and a cold drink! And Machine (an instrumental one), probably the pinnacle of the album. With its own avant-garde atmosphere, mimicking the functioning of some real machine, speaking of a Pop artist, this is quite something! We got dissonant woodwinds, atonal guitar solos, multiple sound effects and a constant pace beat that last until the final second! Crazy, crazy, crazy. 良い旅!
A1 暗い眼をした女優 (Kurai Me Wo Shita Joyuu)
A2 忘れたよ (Wasureta Yo)
A3 こころ隠して (Kokoro Kakushite)
A4 むかし (Mukashi)
B1 新曲“Ｂ” (Shinkyoku B)
B2 夕暮れのまんなか (Yuugure No Manaka)
B3 マシン (Machine)
B4 今なら (Ima Nara)
Maki Asakawa: Vocal
Toshinori Kondo: Trumpet, Percussion
Toshiyuki Honda: Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute
Shigeharu Mukai: Trombone
Kiyoshi Sugimoto: Guitar
Kazuo Tobita: Guitar
Tamio Kawabata: Bass
Hiro Tsunoda: Drums
- Yoshino Kimutsugi: Recording & Mixing Engineer
- Tatsuya Sakamoto: Second Engineer
- Nonaka Lily: Front Cover Art
Recorded at July 19, 20 and 21 1982 at Take One Studio.
- All lyrics: 浅川マキ (Maki Asakawa) except B-2 by 山内テツ (Tetsu Yamauchi)
- All songs composed by 近藤等則 (Toshinori Kondo)
- Label: Express
- Toshiba EMI (Japan)